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Valley People (Feb. 1, 2017)

YORKVILLE collected nine inches of rain over the six-day stretch of January 18-24, with the first day being the wettest at 3.32 inches. The High Rollers’ season total is now a whopping 51.96 inches.

MARSHALL NEWMAN WRITES: Traveling to Anderson Valley Sunday morning, I passed a very large (best guess, 250-300 pounds), very dead wild boar on the side of Highway 128 perhaps a mile south of Yorkville. I stopped in Yorkville and was informed the dead boar was IN the road at 6 a.m. – apparently good Samarians dragged it to the shoulder. I’ve been traveling to and through Anderson Valley for nearly 60 years, and this was the first wild boar roadkill I’ve seen. The carcass was gone when I passed the same spot Sunday afternoon. “

AT THURSDAY NIGHT’S Trivia quiz at Lauren’s, the teacher’s table not only won the general knowledge contest, they won for best team name — “Alternative Facts.” (Yes, we have a lot of fun in Boonville, Mendocino County’s most happening community.)


I’m pondering the relationship between the renting of our social and environmental fabric and the seemingly mindless regulatory manipulation by those whose job it is to serve us. Pet peeves: The "Don't drink and drive" mantra coupled with 30 wine tasting rooms along the Highway 128 corridor. And the State Water Resources Control Board mandating the many vineyards to appropriate water only during the low flow months of spring and summer when the fish need it the most.

An insult to human intelligence is being dished out by Caltrans in the form of a speed limit increase through Philo, predicated on a regulation that dictates that if traffic routinely passes by at a significantly higher speed the speed limit must be increased. Supposedly, it’s an anti-speed trap rule, but given that nobody is ever ticketed how can it be a speed trap? Tuesday, a week ago, a handful of Valley residents spoke up against this nonsense at the Board of Supervisors meeting. Supervisors agreed. But its not their decision - all they could do was vote to send a letter to Caltrans. Elsewhere in the paper is a full report of that meeting and I implore you to write to Caltrans with your concerns.

Darren Hill
Caltrans District 1,
P. O. Box 3700
Eureka. 95502-3700

Another assault on the rational is the discovery that California Health and Safety Code exempts State Building and Labor laws for "Organized Camps". According to Danielle French-Jun of Blackbird Farm, a Mendocino Building Inspector named Swearington allows Blackbird to house children in yurts because Blackbird is an "Organized" educational camp. Yes, Blackbird’s website does claim that "Blackbird Farm is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating youth and adults about sustainable living, farming and healthy eating."

But how many farmers do you know who live in yurts in the middle of a stand of trees? Especially after one of those trees has fallen and completely demolished one of your abodes? Would you rebuild there? Blackbird Farm has.

In California, new-age back-to-the-landers, in the middle of treeless meadows, and under minimal Class K regulations, are not allowed to bed down in a yurt. A young adult couple I know has been Red Tagged and made to move out of their yurt placed securely beyond trees. The powers that be determined this yurt wasn't safe.

I give Blackbird’s Danielle French-Jun a gold star for returning my call to inform me that Yes Blackbird is housing the kids in yurts among redwood groves because the state and the County says they can.

On a lighter and more and hopeful local development, I met this afternoon with one of the new owners of the former Shenoa property (Philo) now known as The Land. I found them to be real people wanting to create a unique outdoor experience for their future guests. I am told that while there is a peripheral connection to One Taste, a better living through enhanced orgasms group, the focus and scope of The Land is along the lines of Esalen in Big Sur. Esalen promotes "Cultivating a Deep Change in Self and Society" so we might hope to see mellow and friendly visitors chugging along the country lane of Ray's Road in Philo. Best of what I heard from The Land people was an emphatic desire to develop a strong and open relationship with the Anderson Valley community by making their facilities available free to us when they are not in use.

AGREE COMPLETELY with Sheriff Allman, whose request to the Supervisors today (Tuesday) for a $35,000 (roughly) used Snow Cat was nitpicked all the way to formal budget hearings i.e., death. The snow-track-tractor would be paid for mostly out of asset forfeiture funds, with some of the purchase price coming from other agencies. None of the purchase would come from the County's general fund.

WE EXPECT the Sheriff's Department to be prepared for all eventualities, and those eventualities include cold weather emergencies. The Sheriff quite convincingly described his frantic efforts two weeks ago to replace a borrowed a Snow Cat for a sudden rescue effort above the North County snow line after another borrowed one broke down (or ran out of gas, we’re not sure). None were available.

IN ANOTHER episode where a Snow Cat was definitely needed occurred last week, eight miles east of Black Butte, way, way, wayyyyyyyy off 162 east of Covelo. The call for help came in on Sunday evening. A man working in three feet of snow had fallen off a tractor and broken his ribs. Anyone who has cracked ribs, let alone broken them, knows how immobilizing an injury it is. It took a total of five hours to reach him and bring him out. The fire department had nothing that could get to him in those conditions. Two or three private volunteer rescuers in four wheel drive pick ups finally got to the injured man, and they kept getting stuck and had to tow each other via trees and cables and winches to get over the bad stretches in leapfrog fashion. A snow cat could have reached the scene in an hour, gotten him out even faster.

NEIGHBORING counties did not have a functioning Snow Cat. Although the three stranded persons in the emergency described by the Sheriff were successfully extracted, there are many areas of the County where that extraction, without a Snow Cat, might not be successful. Allman also explained that the Snow Cat would allow the County to do winter repairs at the remote mountaintops where the County’s microwave repeaters are positioned. It just seems like commonsense to enlarge the Sheriff's emergency capacity to include a Snow Cat given our mountainous and occasionally snowy terrain.

I DON'T KNOW if there's some kind of residual Blue Meanie hostility for cops at work among the Supes — Supervisor Carre Brown voted Yes, McCowen, Gjerde and Hamburg voted No (i.e., postponement to budget preparations) — but if the Supes applied the same intense fiscal scrutiny to all the County's departments that they apply to Sheriff Allman, the County's budget would be a lot healthier than it is.

A DELEGATION of Anderson Valley residents appeared before the Supervisors a week ago Tuesday morning to urge the Supes that the speed limit through Philo not be raised, left at 30mph. A number of locals spoke, including Anderson Valley resident Sheriff's deputy Craig Walker. Several persons noted that the first they'd heard of CalTrans plans to increase the speed limit was when the AVA, on short notice, reported it as “a rumor.” Which at the time, it was. (CalTrans' notice did appear in the Ukiah Daily Journal, which is not widely read in the Anderson Valley.) We soon learned the particulars by searching them out. We never did get the CalTrans presser on their plans for Philo, a fact I brought to the attention of the Supervisors via the following e-mail, with a c-c to Phil Frisbie of CalTrans:

"TO THE SUPERVISORS: You should know that CalTrans, years ago, removed us from their media contact roster. They said we'd made fun of them fifteen years ago. We received notice about the proposed Philo speed limit increase from Howard Dashiell's report to the Supes, and we saw it there only because we had read Howard's reports and were surprised to see notice of CalTrans' plans. We have certainly given the proposal much notice since and, by now, everyone in the Anderson Valley is aware of it and unanimously opposed to any change in the speed limit through Philo."

FRISBIE of Caltrans soon responded: "Bruce, You certainly HAVE made fun of Caltrans and myself in the past. And don’t get me started on your giving Will Parrish free reign [sic] to roast me personally over the Willits Bypass! However, since the time you were removed from our mail lists our former PIO Chief and former District Director have both left, so how about we start off fresh? I DO appreciate good satire. Not that I often see it in the AVA, but I do appreciate it when I do.) Please give me a list of email addresses you would like added to our news release list and as the Interim Chief of Pubic Information I will personally add them. Sincerely, Phil Frisbie, Jr. CalTrans.”

AS OF 2014, Frisbie made $65k per year plus $29k in bennies which, it seems, entitles him to decide which media get CalTrans press releases and even to make literary distinctions. But we’ve patched it up with Phil, and we kinda look forward to resumption of Big Orange’s daily deluge of pressers.

IN 'N OUT BURGER opened in Ukiah last week. Located on North State where the famous landmark Fjord's stood for many years, fast food gourmets flooded the latest chain restaurant to put down in our chain-heavy County seat, creating unprecedented traffic jams at the north end of Ukiah.

MUCH CONSTERNATION at AVA headquarters last Wednesday afternoon when our cyber-link was suddenly severed at 3:30 just as we were beginning to assemble the evening's posts. A vaguely accented call center voice soon reached out to the 500 Boonville customers abandoned by AT&T to assure us we would be restored to full global reach within 48 hours. The voice, from somewhere in Missouri, Mumbai, El Salvador, the Philippines or, for all we knew, Philo, commented that he wasn't allowed to "divulge that information" — his location. A prompt recon of Boonville revealed two tech trucks south of town near Pennyroyal Farms working on an apparently downed line, and by 7:50pm we re-joined the global village and went back to work.

LOCAL MINISTERS, preachers or whatever designation the Godly prefer, should do a much better job organizing funeral services. The County's mortuaries do their part but it is up to the ministers to conduct the service. I've been to two recently, and many more over the long years, where it's painfully obvious the minister has spent little or no time preparing what he's going to say. He, and it's always a he, just gets up there and wings it, then, when he's exhausted his meager supply of tired pieties, he asks anyone who wants to say something to come forward and say it. Even with a standing room only crowd spilling out of the Apple Hall in Boonville, the crowd is inevitably caught by surprise, at a literal loss for words because no one of them had expected to speak. Why doesn't the minister arrange beforehand, from the deceased's many relatives and friends, a list of five or six people to memorialize the departed? If people had a week or two to prepare they'd do fine, but impromptu is tough, even for people accustomed to addressing large gatherings of people.

AMONG my many regrets is not speaking up at the funeral of one of my cousins, a pioneer lesbian named Charlotte Anderson. Her service was in Healdsburg, where she'd lived for many years. As a little kid, I was very fond of Char, as we called her, because she was not only very kind to children, she was always up for a ball game, always had time to play catch, throw a football, shoot hoops, read us a story. On a day seared into my memory, our family had paid a visit to her family. I was about ten. As I understood years later, my cousin had "come out," as they say, and I can't even imagine how my uncle took that news, but in 1950, or even now, he would not have taken it well. So, there's my cousin, who held the women's javelin record at Cal for several years, sitting around with five or six masculine-looking women who were teammates and, I belatedly understood, sister Sapphists. My little brother blurted out, "Mom, how come all these ladies look like men?" My mother promptly clapped her hand over his mouth as she fairly hissed in his ear, "Shut up, goddammit. Don't be rude." Char taught and coached for many years in Santa Rosa high schools. I'd see her at family functions where she was always friendly. But she was a registered Republican and, well, I'm not, and often found myself in political arguments with Char's pugnacious, long-time partner, Phyllis. "Well, well," Phyllis would say, “Here's Mr. Communist." In her worldview, there were Republicans and communists. I'd explain that actually I was a kind of half-assed liberal but thought of myself as a green socialist, but Phyl, as she was known, wasn't buying any mealy mouthed distinctions. Charlotte, after a brief illness, died at her home on the Russian River in March of 2009. She was 78. There was a well-attended service for her in Healdsburg where she'd been an active and popular figure. Men and women spoke, many of them gay, but not a single person so much as hinted at the central fact of Charlotte's life and how brave she'd been to live her life, from the time she was a teenager, without disguise or subterfuge, and living her life, especially in the 1950s, took real courage. That should have been said. I'll always regret not speaking up.

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